In Pursuit of the Baekje Architectural Tradition

The architectural tradition of the Baekje is one of interest to all scholars who delve into the cultural, economic and political relations of East Asia in the early medieval period. My own interest is in the development of architectural forms in this period and how they are demonstrative of the political dynamics of the region. My previous research had focused on the Türk-Uighur cultures of Mongolia and Southern Siberia, however the Baekje architectural model has long interested me and I have been eager to visit some of the sites myself. This opportunity came in the summer of 2010, when I was invited to join the Buyeo National Institute of Cultural Heritage to participate in the archaeological excavation of Jeongnim-sa Temple in Buyeo, South Korea. This was an honour for me, as I was to be the first foreigner to participate on the invitation of this esteemed research and conservation institute. In writing this blog, I aim to give a brief overview of my research activities in South Korea and to promote tourism of the fascinating Baekje architectural and historical sites in South Korea by way of my sharing my experience.

Me taking a breather by some Silla tulmuli in Gyeongju (October 2009)

My timing could not have been better. In the past few decades, Korean historical research in English has opened the topic area up to a much broader (western) audience. This is particularly exemplified by the Korea Institute at Harvard, which has produced some brilliant publications on Korean history and archaeology. Thus among my archaeological tools and other equipment I had with me a copy of volume 1 of the Harvard Early Korea series: Reconsidering Early Korean History through Archaeology (2008). Of particular interest to my field trip was chapter two by Kwon Oh Young of Hanshin University “The Influence of Recent Archaeological Discoveries on the Research of Paekche History” (Kwon 2008, pp. 65-112). This chapter was my archaeological travel guide for my journey and I mean this not to discredit the excellent research presented by the author, but to show its practicality and utility as a survey of Baekje archaeological sites in South Korea. Perhaps due to the amount of time I spent with this article, Kwon’s argument has largely influenced my own perception of Baekje archaeology and it is reflected throughout this blog. As for the gear I took with me on my day trips, I used a medium-large sized day pack to fit my camera, rain jacket, book, water bottle, five meter tape measure, pencil case, notebook/sketchpad, small hand towel (it can get quite hot and muggy in summer), compass and maps. I highly recommend hiring a bicycle to tour the regions mentioned below. All of the roads I encountered were well paved and the traffic was predictable and very safe. Moreover visiting sites by bicycle allows more freedom in one’s schedule and the scenery in many of these places is enchanting.

Map and Key of the Baekje sites mentioned in Kwon's work (Kwon 2008: 66-67)

My journey began in the capital of the Republic of South Korea, Seoul. I am used to travelling alone and travelling to countries where I cannot speak the native language, so the language barrier was not daunting for me. Moreover, this was my second trip to South Korea – my first was a week long trip in which I spent the majority of my time riding a bicycle around the former capital of the Silla Empire, Gyeongju. Nonetheless, I was very excited to be in this wonderful country yet again and to get my teeth stuck into this unique research experience.

The obvious first port of call was the National Museum of Korea. This is truly a world-class museum and a must see for even those who have a brief stopover in the country. The museum exhibits 13,000 artefacts with over 220,000 objects in its collection. There are too many highlights of this museum to list, however in keeping with the theme of this article there was an excellent special exhibition on Joseon architecture, comprising of several models in the central hallway and explanations of the architectural details and construction methods. On the second floor was a large collection of Korean roof tile types and a useful chart on roof eave end tile decoration typology. I spent the majority of my time in the prehistory, ancient history and medieval galleries on the first floor. However one day is not enough time to see the entire museum properly and so on my return trip I visited the other splendid exhibitions within.

The Kangnam region of Seoul has been historically noted as the capital of the Baekje in the Hanseong period (traditionally 18 BC – 475 AD). The Proto-Three Kingdoms period seems to be something of an archaeological and historical battlefield as scholars are drastically refining their understanding of it (Hong 2010, pp. 39-66 and Byington 2009). Most tourist information centres in Seoul will be a little surprised that one would like to visit the Kangnam sites as they are not usually on the agenda of the average tourist. However once you can point out the areas indicated on the maps of Kwon’s work (particularly p. 72), you will be provided with accurate directions and public transport information. Furthermore, all of the sites mentioned have no admission fee, including the Mongchon Museum of History.

Map of the Kangnam region of Seoul. Key: A) Pungnap Walled Site, B) Mongchon Walled Site, C) Pangi-dong and D) Seokchong-dong (Kwon 2008: 72)

My tour of the Kangnam region began with the Pungnap walled site. The archaeological evidence from the Pungnap walled site leads most scholars to believe that this was the capital of Han-Seong. On approach the tourist will follow a series of signs leading to the earthen walls which surround the Pungnap site, which is situated on the edge of the Han River. The entire walled compound would have had a circumference of over 3.5 kilometres and the walls have been dated to the late third century. According to Kwon, the Pungnap walled site surpasses the size of contemporary Silla, Kogryeo and Lelang sites and the walls would have required one million people or more to construct (Kwon 2008, p. 73). Archaeologists believe that the area within the city walls was divided into sections according to imperial function. Just north of the central area is believed to be a ritual site (Kwon 2008, pp. 76-77). Although the well published urban archaeological excavations in the area have been backfilled and in some cases turned into parks, there were excavations still being carried out during my visit and I noticed that they are generally visible to the public from the site fence. Practically all of the early Baekje sites in this region were semi-subterranean and were usually enclosed with wooden posts and contained a hearth within. The greatest preferential shifts to terrestrial structures developed from at least the third century AD and with the influx of Buddhist culture in the late fourth century. However, there is sufficient evidence to say that semi-subterranean structures were still used in the later period of Baekje history despite the growing number of surface built timber framed architecture.

The Monchong earthen walled site (Monchong Toseon) is a citadel formed by earthen ramparts located within Seoul Olympic Park. The Baekje Han-Seong Cultural Festival is held here annually in September. Whilst the Samguksagi (Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms) notes that the site was destroyed by the Koguryeo armies in 475 AD, the ceramic evidence shows the continuation of Beakje pottery forms and large amounts of Koguryeo ceramic types. This makes the stratigraphic relationship unclear, particularly in relation to the historical records (Kwon 2008, p. 70). After a short stroll up the ramparts one can walk along the walls which surround the citadel area. As the site stands now many people use the area as a jogging and walking track. The Korean government has definitely made the area attractive and accessible to the public. Moreover the excavated semi-subterranean structures are open to the public and there is a delightful museum which provides some useful information to tourists interested in Kangnam region Baekje sites. The museum houses some interesting artefacts, particularly in relation to early Baekje architecture. The roof tiles seem to be manufactured and stylistically different from the later Baekje Ungjin and Sabi types, which is probably due to the introduction of new roof tile production technology from the southern Chinese Liang Dynasty (502-552 AD) in the Ungjin period (Kwon 2008, p. 75). The earliest Baekje rooftiles date back to the third century. Kwon argues that the stone foundations of the aristocratic buildings within the Pungnap city area would not be able to sustain the weight of thousands of roof tiles. He suggests that in the early phase of such architecture the structures were probably only partially roofed and the roofing system was more a display of status than bearing any practical function and that “it is possible that in the incipient phase, tile-roof buildings were used to display the social status of the buildings’ owners” (Kwon 2008, pp. 75-76). Bricks with lattice design were also found at the Pungnap site and rarely in the surrounding villages where pit dwellings were commonly constructed. How they were used in architectural and decorative terms has not yet been fully determined.

Leaving the Monchong site I headed south towards two nearby Baekje cemeteries, Pangi-dong and Seokchon dong. Both areas are surrounded by the modern urban sprawl of Seoul however the ancient cemeteries have been kept as walking parks which locals frequent for a change of scenery. Both Pangi-dong and Seokchon dong went through a significant facelift for the 1988 Olympics. Pangi-dong is located on a hill with several tumuli which are typically greened over and kept in immaculate condition by the authorities. There are two groups of four tumuli in Pangi-dong cemetery. By 1910 at least eighty-nine tumuli had been detected within Seokchon-dong. Although believed to be the Baekje royal cemetery, excavations at Seokchong-dong began only in the 1980s. In the mid-fourth century, Baekje royal tomb architecture developed from simple stone-piled tombs to the horizontal entrance with stone chamber tomb type: “composed of an external stepped-style piled stone mound with an internal burial core in the form of a horizontal entrance-style stone chamber square in plan” (Kwon 2008, p. 81). The discovery of a variety of different tomb types has not necessarily complicated our understanding of Baekje architecture and archaeology. According to Kwon, despite the varying types of tomb architecture, they are all basically simple tombs and that the Baekje did not place much importance in the structure of their tombs – tombs were simply spaces for the burial of the dead (Kwon 2008, p. 81).

The first port of call, as always, was the tourist information centre. Whilst some might shirk away from these facilities, I find them useful as they have the most up-to-date opening hours of the sites and sometimes have news of special events and/or discounts available. Gongju’s information centre, at least on the day that I was there, only had one foreign speaking attendant who could only speak Chinese and Japanese. Fortunately I can converse in these languages, but it may be worth noting for others who cannot. The location of the tourist office is at the foot of the Gongsanseong fortress. Gongsanseong has relatively recent stonewalls and reconstructed buildings on its site and a hiking trail with replica Baekje standards placed along the top. The site itself has a commanding view of the Geumgang river and the walls around enclosing the site are approximately 2.5 kilometers in circumference. Paths run through the site with delightful settings, but it would seem that the walking trails above the surrounding walls are the preferred paths taken by visitors. Within Gongsanseong there are several areas which have been excavated. Excavations are still undertaken at the site and are visible to the public. The reconstructions of the buildings are interesting, particularly the 42 column (5 x 6 bays) Imryugak Pavillion, which was reconstructed on a higher elevation than the original location. Most standing reconstructions of or renovations of Baekje structures were undertaken either in the late Joseon (1392-1897 AD) or in the modern period.After Seoul, my next destination was the capital of the Baekje’s Ungjin period – Gongju (not to be mistaken with Gyeongju the capital of unified Silla in the southwest of the peninsula). According to theSamguk-sagi, the capital was moved southwards to Gongju, then known as Ungjin, after the Koguryeo sacked Han-Seong in 475. Buses from Seoul to Gongju run frequently although the Gongju bus station is on the northern side of the Geumgang River. This is a twenty-minute walk to the tourist information centre and the hub of the historical tourist attractions which are on the southern side of the river. Fortunately there are plenty of hotels near the bus station which was a relief to me as I had a heavy pack loaded up with archaeological gear, research materials and necessities for a five-month field trip suitable for differing conditions (my entire field trip also included travel to Mongolia and Russia).

The first port of call, as always, was the tourist information centre. Whilst some might shirk away from these facilities, I find them useful as they have the most up-to-date opening hours of the sites and sometimes have news of special events and/or discounts available. Gongju’s information centre, at least on the day that I was there, only had one foreign speaking attendant who could only speak Chinese and Japanese. Fortunately I can converse in these languages, but it may be worth noting for others who cannot. The location of the tourist office is at the foot of the Gongsanseong fortress. Gongsanseong has relatively recent stonewalls and reconstructed buildings on its site and a hiking trail with replica Baekje standards placed along the top. The site itself has a commanding view of the Geumgang river and the walls around enclosing the site are approximately 2.5 kilometers in circumference. Paths run through the site with delightful settings, but it would seem that the walking trails above the surrounding walls are the preferred paths taken by visitors. Within Gongsanseong there are several areas which have been excavated. Excavations are still undertaken at the site and are visible to the public. The reconstructions of the buildings are interesting, particularly the 42 column (5 x 6 bays) Imryugak Pavillion, which was reconstructed on a higher elevation than the original location. Most standing reconstructions of or renovations of Baekje structures were undertaken either in the late Joseon (1392-1897 AD) or in the modern period.

West of the Gongsanseong fortress is the Baekje cemetery Songsan-ri. Seven tombs have been discovered at this site, although ten are believed to be within the cemetery. Tomb number six houses some brilliant tomb murals which portrayed the creatures of the cardinal directions: white tiger (west), black tortoise (north), blue dragon (east) and the red phoenix (south). The main attraction for visitors is tomb number 7 – the tomb of King Muryeong (r.501-523) and his queen. The brick vaulted tomb generally followed the Southern Chinese tomb type, however many artefacts within display characteristics of Baekje culture. Thankfully this tomb was not looted and the archaeologists excavating the site were fortunate to have found a rich inventory of funerary goods, providing excellent data for the study of Baekje culture. There is an onsite subterranean museum, which houses several reconstructions of the Songsan-ri tombs.

Songsan-ri Tombs - the entrance to the tomb of King Muryeong

From Songsan-ri cemetery one can take a hiking trail over a hill to the west and arrive at the car park of the Gongju National Museum (this might be slightly problematic if you leave your bicycle at the Songsan-ri cemetery). The Gongju National Museum was moved to a new building in 2004 and the exhibition halls are both modern and spacious. Whilst the museum holds over 10,000 artefacts from all periods of history discovered in the region, the undoubtable main attraction of the museum are the treasures from King Muryeong’s tomb. Many of these have been listed as national treasures and among the highlights of the exhibition are the royal crown and stone guardian beast. A feature of many Korean museums are their outdoor stone artefact exhibits. The stone pieces in front of the Gongju National Museum offer some interesting architectural features such as plinths, pagodas and basins; not withstanding other interesting pieces, in particular those of Buddhist flavour.

Departing from Gongju, I made my way by bus to Buyeo, the last capital of the Baekje Kingdom. Unlike the dire circumstances that forced Baekje to flee from their capital from Han-Seong to Ungjin, the further shift south from Ungjin to Sabi (as Buyeo was then known) in 538 was a planned move to avoid military pressure from the Koguryeo in the north and further develop trade and diplomatic relationships with Southern China and Japan. I stayed in the Buyeo Samjeong Youth Hostel for three weeks which was a relief as there are very few hostels in these parts of South Korea. The facilities of the youth hostel are targeted more towards school groups and wedding events and although it was an international youth hostel, I had the impression that not many international guests make their way there. Nonetheless, the staff were friendly and accommodating and I would stay there again if I return to Buyeo.Historically, the Baekje adopted Buddhism from 384 AD which means that whilst there are a few traces of Baekje Buddhism in Han-Seong, the Ungjin capital provides rich evidence of Buddhist material culture. There are two prominent early medieval temples to visit in the Gongju region: Gap-sa and Magok-sa. Unfortunately none of the Baekje structures survive in Gongju and Gapsa is the main Baekje temple of Gongju, whilst Magok-sa is of the Unified Silla period (668-935 AD). It is only due to the lack of Baekje archaeological evidence that I will not discuss these temples here although I highly recommend visiting them for their beautiful setting and their historical value.

Sabi followed the Baekje architectural tradition of having a hill-fort or citadel located within or close to the urban area. The city had a gridded plan and was oriented on a north-south axis. At the northern end of the city was the Buso mountain fortress. At the foot of this mountain is where the Buyeo tourist information office is located. My colleagues in Buyeo informed me that recent excavations at the foot of the mountain led them to believe that the Sabi Baekje palace complex was located there. There is some debate as to the founding date of the Buso mountain fortress, but it is indisputable that it was at its most prominant during the Baekje Sabi period. It is generally believed that the fortress fulfilled a military role and was a recreational park for the royal family in times of peace. Ascending into the mountain-fortress one can visit numerous reconstructed architectural structures and archaeological sites such as the military depot, Nakhwaam Cliff, Sabiru Pavilion, Yeongillu Pavilion and Goransa Temple.

My task and main purpose for coming to South Korea was to join the Buyeo National Institute of Cultural Heritage (BNICH) on its Jeongrim-sa temple excavation project. I was kindly invited by Professor Yangjin Pak at Chungnam National University and when we met, he took me to the BNICH research offices to meet with the project leaders and the heads of the institute. I was honoured to receive such a gracious welcome. After our meeting, I was given an introduction to the Jeongrim-sa site and introduced to the team. The on-site team consisted of a site manager, site supervisor and archaeology assistant. The rest of the team usually numbered approximately twelve local excavation hands, most aged over forty. Unfortunately there was no staff member who could speak English particularly fluently, however we managed to communicate regardless of this obstacle and I am sincerely grateful for the patience, hospitality and assistance of all those concerned, particularly in the beginning when we had not yet developed a system of communication. Being the first foreigner to work with the BNICH meant that there was no precedent to follow, however I found all involved to be very accommodating with me and understanding of my research aims.

Jeongnim-sa had been researched by Korean and Japanese scholars intermittently for about a century and the BNICH excavations at the Jeongnim-sa Temple site had begun several years prior to my involvement. Most of the site had already been excavated, such as the gate, main Buddha hall and flanking galleries. The Jeongnim-sa temple plan format was typical of the Baejke type: (from south to north or front to back in a linear arrangement) gate, pagoda, Buddha hall and lecture hall with flanking galleries. The spatial arrangement of this site follows the ‘garam’ architectural plan which was transported from Baekje to Japan. The divided ponds at the front of the site are among the earliest remaining ancient ponds in Korea. Archaeological evidence showed that some structures at this site were supported by foundations of rammed earth in diagonal bands (‘panchuk’ method) as opposed to the horizontal band technique of the Chinese ‘hangtu’. Furthermore, the foundations were enclosed by a wall of stacked roof tiles and not by brick – this seems to be a Baekje architectural technique. Our objective for 2010 was to test whether or not the monks’ dormitories were located behind the lecture hall as was the case in some other Baekje temples such as Neungsangli-sa. The excavation results from the field season have not yet been published, and I was only present for the first three weeks of the project, so I am unable to include many details of the excavation. However from personal communication with the team since the end of the field season, I have learned that the excavations proved successful in that they located the monks’ dormitory behind the lecture hall, although the structure differed to other Baekje monks’ dormitory sites.

The Korean method of excavation was slightly different to what I was used to. Firstly, the field season is much longer than on other projects I have worked on. In the past I had only undertaken 1-3 months of archaeological fieldwork on each project, however the Jeongnim-sa project was scheduled for six months and has run for longer periods in previous years. Another team of archaeologists in Buyeo were conducting fieldwork at Wangheung-sa Temple and scheduled to work for eight months. The planning and careful extrapolation of data are only two of the numerous benefits of having such a long field season. Furthermore, the painting of the borders of archaeological features was done to highlight the features and help determine their contextual relationships. In addition, I was introduced to a new excavation tool – the ‘homi’, which is a farming tool which has a long handle with a flat blade at the other end. This tool, when sufficiently sharpened, is excellent for trowelling and cleaning sections.

Jeongnim-sa site is a popular tourist destination for travellers, tour groups and school groups. There is a splendid on-site museum and its central location in Buyeo makes it a primary destination for all visitors to the region. The Jeongnim-sa’s main attractions are the stone pagoda and stone Buddha. The stone pagoda is one of only two remaining Baekje pagodas. Its five-storied, graceful, yet simplistic form is a marvel for visitors and architectural researchers. In addition an inscription which runs along the bottom storey further enhances its historical importance. The pagoda was inscribed by a Tang General after defeating the Baekje in 665 proclaiming his victory and detailing his ‘virtuous’ exploits. The other main attraction is the Buddha statue which is located in the only standing temple hall on the site – the rebuilt lecture hall, which now functions as a main Buddha hall. The Buddha sits on a lotus pedestal. The figure looks smoothed over and seems quite crudely formed. However the rounded, simplistic features and gentle face of the Buddha emanate a sense of tranquillity. Although the current features of the Buddha (particularly the head) are characteristic of the Goryeo style (918-1392 AD), it may be a rendering of an earlier Buddhist statue dating to the early medieval period. In all probability, some of the separate pieces of the monument could have been produced in different periods.

Although I was very busy with the excavation of Jeongnim-sa, I was also able to visit other Baekje sites and museums in the Buyeo region. To the east of Buyeo is the Neung Temple site. The temple site is adjacent to a Baekje cemetery. A stone sarira niche which was discovered from excavations of the Neung Temple’s pagoda site also carried an inscription displaying royal patronage of the temple. This allowed researchers to deduce that both the cemetery and the temple were of royal status (Kwon 2008, p. 90). The most startling discovery from the site is that of a gilt-bronze incense burner, which is now housed in the Buyeo National Museum.

Near to Jeongnim-sa is the Buyeo National Museum. Outside the museum is an excellent collection of stone artefacts, mostly of Buddhist influence. The museum is primarily dedicated to Baekje culture. Exhibition Hall I displays artefacts from the late Bronze Age to the pre-Sabi Baekje Period and Exhibtion Hall II displays artefacts from Sabi Baekje. This splendid facility is host to the famous gilt-bronze incense burner discovered at the Neung-sa Temple site. The Daoist imagery of the incense burner cover is the main attraction of the artefact. It displays flowing scenes of humans and animals on twenty-five mountains and forty-nine small peaks which flow together beautifully but also with a calculated turbulence that sparks the viewer’s attention. At the top is a proud phoenix and at the foot, below the lotus base is a dragon; both highly auspicious creatures of East Asian iconography. The incense burner is a flagship artefact for Sabi Baekje culture and elements of it are used in many modern emblems relating to Baekje culture, such as the logo of the Buyeo National Museum.

The Incense burner discovered from the Neung-sa Temple site (at the Buyeo National Museum)

Opposite the youth hostel, which is west of Buso mountain, one can find Gudurae Park – which literally translates as ‘Great Nation Park’ although some locals call it ‘Smelly Park’. According to local legend, there once was a dragon that dwelt in the Baengma River and protected Sabi from invaders. One day a local fisherman caught the dragon by mistake and dragged the carcass up onto a small hill (supposedly where Gudurae Park is now situated). The smell of the rotting carcass caused all sorts of problems for the local inhabitants. The loss of the protector dragon allowed the Silla and Tang forces to approach the city from the Baengma River and lay siege to Sabi. In any case, the location of the park is very pleasant today and it has a lovely view of the Baengma River bend and western mountains. Within the park are several modern stone sculptures. On top of the hill and to its northern entrance one can find many excellent stone artefacts: statuettes, millstones, stele bases, basins, pagodas and animals. I cannot vouch for their authenticity, however it is probable that the millstones and some of the ‘less valuable’ stone pieces are not modern renderings. Nonetheless, the stone sculptures, raised vantage point and green surroundings on the river bend make Gudurae Park a pleasant setting at sunset.

There are many Buddhist temples to visit in Buyeo. Jeongnim-sa and Neung-sa are two of the most prominent temples in the city region and once the excavation/conservation of the ancient structures and sewage treatment of Wangheung-sa is completed, it too will be a major site to visit in Buyeo. Muryang-sa lies beyond the Baengma River in the western mountain range in the outskirts of Buyeo. Although it was built in the Unified Silla period, it is an interesting visit for architectural historians and well worth the trip from Buyeo proper.

To the north of Buyeo, after crossing the Baengma River is the Baekje Culture Park. It is the largest historical theme park in South Korea. Although I am not usually one for theme parks, my interest was sparked when I heard that the Baekje Culture Park includes a History Reenactment Village which consists of reconstructions of the Royal Palace, Neung-sa, Gaegukchon Village, Folk Village, Gunsatongsinchon Village and Jangjemyojichon Village. Unfortunately, the official opening of the Baekje Culture Park was set for September to coincide with the 2010 Baekje World Festival – three months after I was to have left Korea. Nonetheless the Baekje History and Culture Museum was open (it was opened in 2006) and it had some excellent hands-on interactive exhibits about Baekje culture and a sizeable section related to Baekje architecture.

One of the fun interactive exhibits at the Beakje History and Culture Museum

The last Baekje related site I visited was Gungnam-ji Pond. My colleagues from the Wangheung-sa and Jeongnim-sa excavations invited me to visit the lotus festival which is held there annually. Gungnam-ji Pond is located within Seodong Park in the south of Buyeo City. Gungnam-ji literally translates as ‘pond to the south of the royal palace’ and when one considers the entire Sabi/Buyeo city layout, it corresponds quite clearly to the East Asian principles of geomancy. Busosan mountain to the north, the pond to the south, mountains to the east and west of the city and the palace to the north of the grided urban layout are just a few common basic fengshui/geomantic features. According to the Samguk-sagi, King Mu constructed this pond along with a 7.8 km channel to its water source in 634 AD. In addition the artificial mound in the middle of the lake provides some insight into the Baekje architectural planning for royal gardens.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed my time in Korea and I found my experience to be greatly rewarding. The sites were accessible and well kept, the museums were well designed and the exhibits well displayed. The people were helpful and kind and the infrastructure new and in excellent condition. Korean food is particularly favourable to my palate – red hot and spicy (which is not to say that other milder dishes did not excite me, I just prefer the eye-watering culinary experience). Although this blog cannot and is not intended to be a comprehensive overview of all Baekje architecture, I hope that I have given the reader a taste of what one could expect if they were to visit the aforementioned sites. Regrettably I did not even reach the important Baekje sites further south in Naju and Iksan – I was particularly eager to see the stone pagoda of Mireuk-sa and so I have reserved these places for future visits to Korea. Therefore my experiences related here cannot give an all encompassing perspective on Baekje architecture, but I hope it will inspire others to travel to the region to visit the aforementioned sites and museums. Personally, I gained an enormous amount of respect for the Baekje architectural tradition and my experience has only heightened my desire to continue to the study of it.

The original concept of going to South Korea for my field research was developed and encouraged by Dr. Bryan K. Miller and if it were not for the kind assistance of Prof. Yangjin Pak, I would not have been invited to partake in Korean archaeological field research at all. I am grateful for their interest and support in my research. I would also like to thank the staff at the Buyeo National Institute of Cultural Heritage for its kindness and hospitality whilst I was based in Buyeo. In particular I must mention my colleagues at Jeongnim-sa: Youngjung Ja, Eunseon Park and Yugyeong Yi and my thanks also extends to our colleagues excavating Wangheung-sa. Finally I would like to express my gratitude to the Society for the Study of Early Christianity and the department of Ancient History at Macquarie University for their financial support of my field research in South Korea.


  • Byington, M.E. “Editor’s Introduction” in Byington, M.E. (ed.), Early Korea, The Samhan Period in Korean History, Vol. 2, Korea Institute, Harvard University, 2009, pp. 7-13.
  • Hong, W., Ancient Korea-Japan Relations, Paekche and the Origin of the Yamato Dynasty, Kudara International, 2010.
  • Kwon, O.Y., “The Influence of Recent Archaeological Discoveries on the Research of Paekche History” in Byington, M.E. (ed.), Early Korea, Reconsidering Early Korean History through Archaeology, Vol. 1, Korea Institute, Harvard University, 2008, pp. 65-112.

Tags: ,


More Posts in Blogs from the Field


Share this Post


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>